Choosing the right Forex broker can mean the difference between earning money and losing money. It is that simple. When picking an online Forex broker, there are 5 “must have” qualities to look for — a quality financial institution, low spreads, tools and research, leverage options, and a variety of account types. There are so many trading Forex brokers, there’s no use in picking a broker at random. You must determine what kind of online Forex broker you’re looking to do business with, do some research, and match your interests with theirs.
Choosing the Right Forex Broker
Choosing the right Forex broker can be a daunting task which is why we’ve assembled this list of considerations to assist you.
Quality Institution – Unlike equity brokers, forex brokers are usually tied to large banks or lending institutions because of the large amounts of capital required (leverage they need to provide). Also, forex brokers should be registered with the Futures Commision Merchant (or FCM) and regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (or CFTC). You can find this and other financial information and statistics about a forex brokerage on its website or on the website of its parent company.
Low Spreads – The spread, calculated in units known as “pips”, is the difference between the price at which a currency can be purchased and the price at which it can be sold at any given point in time. Forex brokers don’t charge a commission, so this difference is how they make money. In comparing brokers, you will find that the difference in spreads in forex is as great as the difference in commissions in the stock arena. Remember, lower spreads save you money in the long term.
Wide Range of Leverage Options – “Leverage” is kind of like credit between you and your Forex broker. Leverage is the name of the game in Forex because the price deviations (the sources of profit) are merely fractions of a cent. Leverage, expressed as a ratio between total capital available to actual capital, is the amount of money a broker will lend you for trading. For example, a ratio of 100:1 means your broker would lend you $100 for every $1 of actual capital. Many brokerages offer as much as 250:1. Remember, lower leverage means lower risk of a margin call (when your forex broker adds more of your money to an account when it drops to a certain level), but lower leverage can also mean less bang for your buck. The opposite is also true — working with an online Forex broker willing to give you high leverage increases your chance of a margin call, but also increases your potential profit. If you have a limited supply of cash, make sure your online Forex broker offers high leverage. If capital is not a problem, any broker with a wide variety of leverage options should do. A variety of options lets you vary the amount of risk you are willing to take. For example, less leverage (and therefore less risk) may be preferable for highly volatile or unusual currency pairings.
Account Types – Many trading Forex brokers offer at least two different types of investment accounts. The smallest account is known as a “mini account”, and requires you to trade with a minimum of around $250. This account is usually offered with a high amount of leverage, which you will certainly need in order to make money with so small an initial investment. The standard account lets you trade at a variety of different leverages, but it requires a minimum initial capital of $2,000. Finally, there are the so called “premium accounts”, which often require significant amounts of capital at your first investment. These premium accounts let you use different amounts of leverage and often offer additional tools and services that smaller accounts don’t have access to. Make sure the online Forex broker you choose has the right leverage, tools, and services you need as it relates to your initial investment.
Watch out for certain sneaky or even unethical practices that some Forex brokers use. Not everyone in this business is honest. Specifically, be mindful of a broker’s margin rules and any rumors of “sniping”.
Strict Margin Rules – When you are trading with borrowed money, or leverage, your trading Forex broker has a say in how much risk your account should take. Remember that your broker can buy or sell when it deems it necessary — this can be a bad thing for you. Let’s say you have a margin account, and your investment takes a nose dive before rebounding to a new high. Working with a Forex broker who follows strict margin rules, even if you have enough cash to cover the crash this broker will likely liquidate your investment when it hits that low number. This action on their part can cost you plenty of money. Talk to potential trading Forex brokers in person or visit online discussion forums to find out who the honest brokers are. You have to do the footwork, there’s no other way around it.
Sniping — also known as “hunting”, this refers to the practice of prematurely buying or selling near preset value points. This is an underhanded behavior committed by some less than reputable brokers to increase their own profits. As a rule, no broker admits to committing acts of hunting, but rumors about certain brokers who have been “sniping” or hunting is common in online discussions and among Forex traders. The only way you can determine which brokers hunt and which brokers don’t is to talk to your fellow traders. Thankfully, the Internet has made communicating with Forex traders around the world as easy as logging onto a Forex discussion board. There is no blacklist or organization that reports sniping activity, so you’ll have to talk to other traders in person or visit online discussion forums to find out who the honest brokers are.